On February 21, 2011, Juan Quijano was crossing 32nd Street at Sixth Avenue in Manhattan when he was struck and knocked to the ground by a taxi whose driver was making a left turn.
In the ensuing lawsuit, a Kings County jury found the driver fully at fault and the matter then proceeded to a trial on damages. Mr. Quijano, then 31 years old, was awarded $800,000 for his pain and suffering ($300,000 past – three and a half years, $500,000 future – 40 years). In Quijano v. American Transit Insurance Co. (2d Dept. 2017), the appellate court affirmed the judgment, rejecting defendants’ contention that the award was excessive.
As indicated in the court’s decision, plaintiff sustained shoulder, knee and spinal injuries. He was taken from the scene by ambulance to the local hospital complaining of pain in those areas. Here are the injury details:
- Shoulder: torn labrum of the rotator cuff with impingement syndrome requiring arthroscopic surgery in 2012 and leaving plaintiff with permanently damaged cartilage, significantly reduced range of motion and muscle power and at high risk for developing traumatic arthritis, adhesive capsulitis and scar tissue
- Knee: medial meniscal tear and tilting of the patella leaving plaintiff with permanently damaged cartilage and requiting future surgery
- Back – partial tear/bulge of the L4-5 disc with radiculopathy at the L5 nerve root (confirmed by EMG nerve test) requiring epidural injections and leaving plaintiff in constant pain
- Neck – C5-C6 radiculopathy affecting biceps
Plaintiff claimed at trial that his pain was so acute that he had been for years and to the present taking 3-4 Vicodin pills per day 3-4 days a week. Furthermore, he alleged he still had difficulties with lifting heavy items, running with his child and playing soccer.
In addition to the award for pain and suffering, the jury also awarded, and the appellate court affirmed, damages for future medical expenses in the sum of $800,000 (40 years). Plaintiff’s rehabilitation medicine physician testified that required medical expenses over Mr. Quijano’s lifetime will cost about $1,590,000 (at the rate of $39,000 per year ), including $27,000 per year for epidural injections to both his back and neck, and costs for physicians, physical therapy and diagnostic tests.
- Plaintiff’s pre-trial settlement demand was $100,000 – the limit of the applicable liability insurance policy; the offer was $40,000. The amount of the judgment in excess of the coverage might be recovered in a bad faith refusal to settle claim.
- Plaintiff resumed work (sales and house paining) a few months after the accident and there was no earnings loss claim presented to the jury.
- The driver stated to a police officer at the scene that plaintiff ran into the side of his taxi but the driver was precluded from testifying at trial after he failed to appear several times for his pre-trial deposition.